A Big Request:City Makes Big Ask of MassDOT for Viaduct Project Mitigation

A Big Request:City Makes Big Ask of MassDOT for Viaduct Project Mitigation

By Seth Daniel

Shown in blue is the aea that will be worked on by MassDOT.

Shown in blue is the aea that will be worked on by MassDOT.

City Manager Tom Ambrosino and the City Council have submitted an eye-opening mitigation package to the MassDOT to accommodate the upcoming Chelsea Viaduct project – a major rehabilitation project of the elevated highway leading to the Tobin/Mystic Bridge.

The project is slated to be advertised in 2018 by the state.

In a letter submitted this month, City Manager Tom Ambrosino asked for a total of $1.724 million from MassDOT for various items to make up for the construction project.

“As you know the Route 1 viaduct basically bisects Chelsea, running directly through its dens, environmental justice neighborhoods,” he wrote. “Because of its overwhelming presence in the City, substantial and lengthy reconstruction of the Route 1 viaduct will undeniably yield negative impacts for the City’s residents, businesses and visitors and severely diminish the City’s quality of life.”

He said the project would have substantial disruption to the daily lives of Chelsea residents, including middle school and high school students who routinely walk in the Viaduct area to get the school.

MassDOT said it is early in the design stage and looks to be at about 25 percent by the end of the year. It is considering the letter, but had no further comment than that.

“MassDOT is currently in the early design stage, and is in the process of engaging the public in order to develop a comprehensive construction staging plan that will accelerate construction and minimize disruption to the City of Chelsea and commuters,” said a spokesman for MassDOT. “Additionally, MassDOT is in the process of evaluating the letter from the City of Chelsea and as always, will consider all suggestions that avoid, minimize or mitigate impacts to local business, members of the community and to ensure reliable travel throughout the viaduct area.”

One of the biggest asks is $500,000 to fund a decorative lighting program under the Viaduct. Ambrosino said the lots beneath the Viaduct have historically been very dimly lit and subject to blight and criminal activity. The City is asking for post construction lighting that includes typical street lighting, and also a significant public art and special design program.

“As a commanding presence, the City envisions a spatial design and public art involving up-lighting that would enliven this corridor and lessen the negative attributes associated with the highway,” he wrote.

A second ask is for funding in the amount of $300,000 to re-design and renovate the football stadium and Carter Park – which are cut in half by the Viaduct.

Other mitigation measures include surveillance for parking lots, parking lot improvements under the Bridge for the City, improvements to the Fourth Street off-ramp, residential enhancements to homes abutting the bridge, additional crossing guards for school children, and a contribution to a bike-pedestrian path on the Tobin/Mystic Bridge.

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City Manager,Police Take Two-Way Broadway to Business Community

City Manager,Police Take Two-Way Broadway to Business Community

By Seth Daniel

City Manager Tom Ambrosino and consultants for the City took their message of a two-way Broadway in the business district to owners of the businesses on Thursday morning, Aug. 31, with Ambrosino saying he would stake his position on the issue.

Members of City government met with business owner from Broadway and the adjacent downtown streets Thursday morning at the Green Street Apartments community room. Kicking off the morning, Ambrosino expressed his great support for the change.

“It is incumbent on me to try to reduce the level of skepticism and outright opposition to this change,” he said emphatically. “That is what I’ll try to do in the coming months…I am 100 percent confident I can do that by doing two things – telling you about the advantages and listening to you…Whatever you think of two-way Broadway – one-way Broadway, that one-way speedway, cannot continue. It is unsafe. It is confusing to pedestrians and motorists and it is counterproductive to businesses and merchants on the corridor.”

Ambrosino stressed he believes that one change can transform the City’s downtown – particularly in terms of easing traffic patterns, eliminating unsafe double parking situations and making it easier for pedestrians to get to businesses.

Ralph DiNisco of the consulting firm Nelson Nygaard said that two-way Broadway is possible from a traffic management standpoint.

He compared it to other communities like Revere and Somerville where the lanes are just as wide and the traffic volumes are far greater.

Having studied the volumes in Chelsea and other communities, Broadway Chelsea handles only about 6,500 cars per day, where other Broadways along the Route 107 corridor handle double that.

“From a traffic operations perspective, two-way Broadway can work,” he said. “The numbers aren’t so high that it’s impossible. It can easily work with some changes. From a big picture, there’s no fatal flaw…If you look at other places, they have converted to two-way, and they are successful…Broadway now is a speedway. Nobody stops going down Broadway. They go faster than you want a car to go in a very busy downtown business corridor with people walking around.”

Police Chief Brian Kyes also spoke highly of the change, saying it would help dangerous situations for pedestrians and prevent double parking of delivery trucks – which allows criminals to shield themselves from police.

“There are a lot of young mothers pushing a carriage and when they come out with a carriage from behind a truck, it’s a very, very dangerous situation,” he said. “I’ve heard the idea for many, many years and we at the police department think it’s a very good idea.”

But business owners weren’t so convinced.

Some, like Roman Gold of Margolis Pharmacy, felt that it could increase traffic and become a cut-through for people trying to avoid Rt. 1 traffic.

“You could start to see a lot more traffic redirected by things like the Waze app from Route 1 to avoid traffic tie-ups further up the road,”  he said.

Rick Gordon of Allen’s Cut-Rite said one of the biggest problems for merchants would be deliveries. Many merchants, he said, cannot afford to pay to have deliveries outside of busy times, and he said there isn’t adequate space for delivery trucks in the alley.

“Many people would have to pay $100 or $150 fees for scheduling deliveries,” he said. “I can’t really pass that fee on to my customers and it’s an undue burden on the small business. Many of us do UPS and FedEx only, but some get trailer trucks in periodically…What needs to be done is you need to start by re-striping the parking spots and doing the small things.”

Compare Supermarket owner Al Calvo said he thinks that the delivery problem – which was a great concern – could be solved.

“We’re emphatic with our vendors that there be no deliveries after noon,” he said. “I think there’s a way for us as business people to set the rules. Sometimes my deliveries show up after 2 p.m. and we don’t accept the load. We do have leverage.”

Some were also worried about whether or not the City could enforce the rules well enough, that there would be enough oversight.

Ambrosino said he guaranteed that, if approved, he would make it work.

“We have enough manpower and enough officers that want to work overtime if that’s what it takes,” he said. “I will put my reputation on the line. The City Council can fire me if it doesn’t work. I think it can be that transformative.”

The change cannot be unilaterally implemented. If it is recommended in the overall Re-Imagining Broadway study, it has to be submitted to the Traffic Commission. If approved there, it must go to the City Council for a final approval. At each step, there is plenty of room for public comment.

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School Will Be Back — Drive with Care

School Will Be Back — Drive with Care

With school bells ringing for the start of the 2017-18 school year next week and the week thereafter, commuters will have to adjust to the prospect of schoolchildren and school buses returning to our streets.

All of us who drive to work in the early mornings on weekdays have to admit that not having to deal with cumbersome yellow school buses, crossing guards, and children and their parents darting across busy streets was like having a vacation for the past two months, removing a layer of stress from our morning commute.

If you’re like us, you plan your commuting route during the school year depending on the school-bus schedule — if we’re a few minutes late in the morning, we know we have to adjust our route to avoid the buses.

But our break from those travails of early-morning travel is now over — and once again, we must exercise the utmost caution when driving during the morning rush-hour, when everybody is in a hurry to get to school, work, or wherever.

So we ask all of our readers to please be aware that school will be back in session shortly, and that all of us therefore must be on the lookout for children on their way to school.

Taking a few extra seconds — even if those few seconds might turn into a few extra minutes — in order to exercise safe driving and to obey the laws regarding stopping for school buses and yielding to pedestrians in crosswalks pales in comparison to what could happen if our zeal to get to work should result in a tragedy.

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Girl Scout Parade,Memorial Day Ceremonies Step Off Mon. Morning

Girl Scout Parade,Memorial Day Ceremonies Step Off Mon. Morning

The annual Chelsea Girl Scout Parade and Memorial Day Exercises will take place in that order for the fourth straight year, with even more scouts and organizations expected to march in the parade – which is meant to honor veterans and enhance the official exercises at City Hall.

The parade will began around 8:15 a.m. and start at Welch’s Funeral Home parking lot.

The route will proceed down to City Hall, where the official exercises will kick off at the war memorials.

The Chelsea Girl Scouts have grown exponentially over the last few years, and have become a strong supporter of Memorial Day. Acting with local veterans groups, they have been organizing the parade on their own for many months.

“It bears reiterating that none of it would have been possible without the support from our community: The Chelsea Community Fund grant has gone a long way to helping us expose our Girls to the arts,” said Susana Carella of the busy year the troops have had. “TND was instrumental in allowing us to host our first Mother-Daughter Paint Club event on Mother’s Day weekend. We’ve been fortunate to receive generous donations from Zonta Club, Tito’s Bakery and numerous individuals who have contributed supplies and time to our events. Add to that the tireless dedication of the volunteers who donate time, and often money, to leading their troops and it all adds up to an unparalleled community effort. The Girl Scouts Chelsea Memorial Day Parade is the perfect time to unite all those organizations that work in unison to create the sense of community that distinguishes Chelsea from so many other cities. It is our sincere hope that as many of those organizations as possible will come out and march with us.”

Longtime Girl Scout organizer Elaine Cusick said this year will be particularly special as the Scouts will officially welcome the new veterans at the North Bellingham Veterans Home adjacent to City Hall.

“The Girl Scouts are looking forward to hosting another Memorial Day parade,” said Cusick. “It’s especially moving considering that the newly opened veterans’ residential center – the one located in the old American Legion Hall – will have front row seats to the event. It’s a nice welcome to the community for them. Also, for quite some time, Donnie Kingsbury from the Veteran’s Council has helped the girls practice their marching and formation skills.”

The official exercises will begin shortly after the parade contingent arrives at City Hall.

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One North of Boston Is Very Impressive

One North of Boston Is Very Impressive

You wouldn’t expect anything less but a superbly organized special event to mark the grand opening of the One North of Boston residences located at 100 Heard St. in Chelsea.

As much as this was a triumph of real estate development and vision for the owners of this outstanding property, it was another victory for City Manager Jay Ash, who has transformed this city into a place where people want to come and be a part of a vibrant community.

The One North of Boston apartment community is truly a masterpiece of architecture and interior design. It’s definitely worth a tour just to view the innovation and style and to get a grasp of all the amenities available to residents.

For example, One North of Boston is the first apartment community in the area to offer onsite daycare and concierge services for canines.

But there’s so much more to One North of Boston, which has one of the greatest locations you can experience outside of Boston. The Silver T is expanding to Chelsea and it’s just a short walk to the commuter trail. Route 1 is just seconds way from the front door. And you walk to the bustling Everett Avenue business district.

It was great to hear Jay Ash lauding Mark Robinson and Mark White and the other owners for building this new residential community in the city. Robinson and White have contributed so much to this community already, notably through their volunteer efforts and generosity toward the Jordan Boys and Girls Club of Chelsea.

We remember Mark White’s father, the late Boston Mayor Kevin White, who served our capital city so well during his distinguished career in the corner office. Mark White can truly appreciate the coming alive of a city in all of its neighborhoods. Jay Ash has brought Chelsea to great heights just as Mayor Kevin White did in his tenure as the leader of Boston.

Welcome to Chelsea, One North of Boston, and thank you for being a partner in the city’s continuing progression toward greatness under the leadership of Jay Ash.

We are an All-America City that keeps getting better every day.

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Public Safety: Perlatonda Says He is Ready to Discuss Commissioner Idea

Public Safety: Perlatonda Says He is Ready to Discuss Commissioner Idea

After a blow up at last week’s City Council meeting over the proposal to discuss having a Police Commissioner, District 5 Councillor Joe Perlatonda said he is not giving up on the idea and only hopes for a discussion.

“I’m still looking into the Police Commissioner thing and doing research this week,” he said on Tuesday. “We’ll see where it goes when it comes up next Monday. Maybe this is not the direction we need to go, but it’s on the table for discussion. It’s going to require a lot of work and some changes to the Charter if it’s the route we go. I’m still looking at it and I’m not done.”

Perlatonda was the focus of quite an argument at the end of last week, when councillors squared off against one another in a verbal argument over procedure. He was joined by councillors Leo Robinson and Giovanni Recupero in being the focus of the argument.

However, Perlatonda and his allies in the matter had more votes, winning a political battle 6-5.

The Police Commissioner matter is expected to come up again at next Monday’s meeting, Sept. 23.

One of the key arguments was whether to send the matter to the four-person Public Safety Committee or whether to put it before the entire Council in a Conference Committee – which was Perlatonda’s prerogative.

Perlatonda said this week that he never expected the controversy to brew up, and also didn’t expect to get a majority of councillors supporting him at the meeting.

“I didn’t talk to any of the councillor beforehand about this, so I didn’t expect all of them to vote in my favor,” he said. “I didn’t think it was that controversial to send it to conference. I thought that would have been a better idea to have all 11 minds hashing it out before we put a lot of work into it.”

Perlatonda also said he plans to keep shining light on what he sees as a public safety problem in Chelsea – though he did say he’s seen some positive signs lately.

“I have seen some cops on the streets walking lately, which is a good thing,” he said. “I’d like to see more of that.”

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A Tale of Two Casinos: Suffolk Downs Owners Unveil Scale Model of Proposed Site

A Tale of Two Casinos: Suffolk Downs Owners Unveil  Scale Model of Proposed Site

Suffolk Downs COO Chip Tuttle describes the new 3D model of the $1 billion Caesars Resort at Suffolk Downs. The model will be on display in the Topsider Room at Suffolk Downs and East Boston resident can view the model on Tuesday, April 9 from 6-8 p.m. and again on Saturday, April 13 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Suffolk Downs COO Chip Tuttle describes the new 3D model of the $1 billion Caesars Resort at Suffolk Downs. The model will be on display in the Topsider Room at Suffolk Downs and East Boston resident can view the model on Tuesday, April 9 from 6-8 p.m. and again on Saturday, April 13 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Owners of Suffolk Downs unveiled its 3D model of the $1 billion Caesars Resort at Suffolk Downs last week to the media. On Monday, the East Boston Times sat down with Suffolk Downs’ COO Chip Tuttle to get a sneak peak at the model and updated renderings before it begins a tour through the community and City of Revere.

“The plan is to start everything at once; the Route 1A improvements, a complete renovation of the clubhouse and grandstands and the new construction of hotel, casino and parking structure as well as a third party hotel that we are currently in conversation with hoteliers with that right now,” said Tuttle. “In June 2012 we introduced the concepts of Caesars Resort at Suffolk Downs but since then there have been significant updates to those concepts especially in regards to landscape design.”

Tuttle said the idea to create a 3D model of the proposed resort was to bring the development to life from two-dimensional renderings to a model that people from Eastie and Revere can relate to.

“I think this gives people a better perspective of where the building sits and how we can transform this property from asphalt into something that is truly stunning and lot nicer than the landscape that currently exists,” said Tuttle.

For example, Tuttle pointed to the hotel and garage in relation to model views on top of Orient Heights hill.

“Now people can see clearly that when they view the development from East Boston the garage is pretty much hidden and you will have this view of a hotel and second hotel behind it,” said Tuttle. “When we talk of 160 acres of developable land it’s a bit daunting to explain where things are in relation to the neighborhoods that border the property. Part of this 3D model gives people the opportunity to ask questions. And by looking at the design this way will help people frame questions in relation to what they are looking at.”

With a birds eye view of the entire proposed resort, Tuttle said now people can see the vision Suffolk Downs is trying to create.

“Now one can see that from four different entrances you get this great sense of arrival at the resort,” said Tuttle. “From the MBTA station you will walk up to an active courtyard with a café and the second hotel in the background, from Route 1A you will obviously enter the resort looking at the main hotel, circular driveway and fountain. For those wishing to self-park there is the garage and entrances either through the glass catwalk into the casino or out through another active courtyard that has retail space and a small plaza.”

The model was designed by architect of record Elkus Manfredi of Boston and created by GPI Models of Somerville

The model will be displayed in the Topsider Room located on the third floor of the Clubhouse at Suffolk Downs.  Updated renderings of the development will also be on display.

Eastie residents can view the model on Tuesday, April 9 from 6-8 p.m. and again on Saturday, April 13 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Residents are welcome to stop by at any time during each two-hour period.

Tuttle said the specific community day designations are a suggestion and residents of the communities of Eastie and Revere should feel free to come to any of the open houses.

Residents planning to attend are encouraged to RSVP online at www.friendsofsuffolkdowns.com/events or by calling 617-646-1363.

Following the open houses, the 3D will be taken on the road through Eastie and Revere so residents can view the model and updated renderings at various accessible locations within the neighborhoods.

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